Punching Below Their Weight

Why Canada and Mexico are so important to the United States yet so impotent in Washington
October 20, 2011
173.26 KB6 pages

Despite their moderate size – taken together, Canada and Mexico would only be the fifth largest of the world's economies – they are the major foreign source of the United States' wealth and security. The two countries accounted for almost 27% of total U.S. exports in 2010 — more than the United States’ trade relationship with all 27 countries in the European Union and considerably more than its trading relationship with China.

Canada and Mexico are also the United States' largest security allies. Without Canada’s and Mexico’s agreeing to harmonize their visa requirements, integrate their intelligence capacities, and invest billions on border infrastructure, the U.S. exposure to terrorist threats would increase markedly.

The paradox of North America is that, while Canada and Mexico make disproportionately large contributions to the United States’ economic strength and homeland security, they have virtually no influence in Washington's corridors of power, where U.S. policy is made with scant attention being paid to the two U.S. neighbours.

The report examines how Washington has neutered its neighbours’ capacity to leverage this material dependence into actual policy influence over it by shaping the political, economic, and military structures within which continental policy processes play out, thus preventing the periphery from emerging as a competitor.